State and Federal Laws Protect Residents from Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

Senior Man in Wheelchair looking out of a window in a hospital corridor.

Robenalt Law Fights for Victims of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

The decision to admit a family member to a nursing home is rarely easy. Even when it’s clearly the right thing to do, deciding to place a loved one in a nursing home is still a difficult and stressful decision to make.

When you admit a family member to a nursing home, you trust that the facility will care for your family member and uphold their duty to care for and protect these vulnerable members of our society. Sadly, all too often nursing homes fail to meet that responsibility.

Nursing Homes Must Respect Resident Rights

When a nursing home or assisted living facility accepts your loved one, they undertake a duty and a responsibility to provide a certain level of care, and to respect the rights of your family member.  Nursing home residents have important legal rights under federal and state laws, including the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act and the Ohio Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights (ORC 3721.13).  

Nursing homes occupy an unusual place in our society in that they offer both a living situation and medical care. Because nursing homes often care for some of the most vulnerable members of society, it’s important to note that nursing home residents are entitled to certain rights and protections under the law. The most basic of these are:

  • The right to be treated with dignity and respect. While this may sound vague and like a catch-all, it’s an important right that can easily be violated.
  • The right to privacy. In addition to personal privacy this right also extends to a nursing home resident’s belongings.
  • The right to be informed of services and fees. It’s important to read the fine print of a nursing home contract. The agreement should be clear about the services and amenities a resident will receive, as well as the cost of those services.
  • The right to medical care. A nursing home resident has the right to be informed about their medical condition and to see a doctor of their choosing.
  • The right to manage their own money. A nursing home resident should not be required to give up the right to handle his or her own money and should never be coerced into making financial decisions.
  • The right to have a choice over their schedule. This includes when to go to sleep and when to wake up, as well as activities and other preferences that are important to the resident.
  • The right to have an environment that is like a home. The environment should maximize resident comfort and allow the resident to be as independent as possible.

Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

If you have a family member in a nursing home, it’s important that you remain vigilant to make sure that your loved one is being properly cared for. Make yourself aware of the common signs of nursing home abuse and neglect. If you suspect something, say something. When you are visiting your loved one, be on the lookout for the following signs of nursing home abuse or neglect:

  • Dirty clothing or bed linens
  • Bruises, abrasions, or other injuries
  • Untreated medical conditions such as wounds, cuts, or sores
  • Signs or smells of poor hygiene
  • Sudden or unexplained weight loss
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Sudden, unexplained behavior changes
  • Strange or unusual financial transactions
  • Problems or unusual behavior with staff members
  • Complaints from your loved one
  • Anything that makes you feel uneasy or anxious

Of course, some of these signs are consistent with underlying medical issues. But you should remember to follow-up on potential concerns so that they do not grown into larger problems. By addressing your concerns early you can be assured that you are doing your part to ensure a safe environment for your loved one.

If you suspect there is a problem, take action immediately. Follow up on your suspicions with the management of the nursing home.

One strategy is to come to the nursing home at unusual, unpredictable hours. If your visits are predictable, nursing home staff might make a special effort to make sure your loved one is bathed in anticipation of your visit, or be sure they have adequate staff on hand if they know you’re coming. By showing up at unusual and unpredictable hours, you have the chance to see the nursing home staff being abusive or neglectful because they are not expecting you.

You can also ask for a list of medication your loved one is receiving. Sometimes nursing home staff will administer certain medications in an effort to control your loved one’s behavior. Be on the lookout for a drug that is inappropriate for your loved one’s medical conditions or one that a doctor has not prescribed.

You can report neglect and abuse to the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio Attorney General, or a Long-Term Care Ombudsman. You should also contact an experienced Ohio nursing home neglect attorney.

Victims of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect Are Entitled to Compensation

If a loved one was the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, your family member may be entitled to compensation including:

  • Costs for relocation
  • Economic damages
  • Medical expenses caused by the abuse or neglect
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Damages for wrongful death
  • Punitive damages

Because every nursing home neglect case is different it’s impossible to say what kind of compensation might be available. Often, the difference between a successful case and an unsuccessful one is the quality of legal representation. Schedule a free consultation with an experienced Ohio nursing home negligence attorney at Robenalt Law today.

Robenalt Law Fights for the Rights of Ohio Nursing Home Residents

Contact an experienced Ohio nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer at Robenalt Law today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case. Call us at 216-223-7573, complete our online form, or email trobenalt@robenaltlaw.com

 

Tom Robenalt started his litigation career representing nursing homes and assisted living facilities at a large firm in Cleveland. For the past 20 years, he has used that experience to help victims and the families of those injured by negligent health care providers.

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